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Denmark considers 'data ethics council' in wake of Facebook scandal

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Denmark considers 'data ethics council' in wake of Facebook scandal
File photo: Bax Lindhardt/Ritzau Scanpix
13:48 CEST+02:00
Minister for employment Troels Lund Poulsen has backed suggestions that an ethics council for the use of data could be established by the Danish state.

The idea has been raised by environmentalist party Alternative, which has proposed that areas such as privacy, data protection, artificial intelligence and data laws could come under the remit of the ethics council.

A similar ethics body, the Danish Council of Ethics (Det Etiske Råd), already exists for healthcare matters.

“I am open to discussion [of the idea],” Poulsen said to Ritzau.

The government has already established a group tasked with finding potential solutions to data-related ethical issues, the news agency writes.

“We will discuss [the results of the group's work] after the summer break, so we must then also consider whether setting up a permanent data ethics council is a good idea. I can certainly imagine so,” Poulsen said.

The minister added that he would wait to hear the recommendations of the task group before making any form of commitment.

“I am not going to seal the deal today. But data ethics is here to stay. If we are going to use technology in a way that enriches us, we must also consider many ethical questions on data in the future,” he said.

The Alternative party's justice spokesperson Josephine Fock called for the ethics council in the wake of a scandal over data protection by social media giant Facebook.

The data of up to 87 million worldwide users of the social media site may have been mined by analysis firm Cambridge Analytica, including up to 41,820 people in Denmark.

“A lot is happening in this area. The ship is about to sail. A data ethics council would ensure that people's information is not shared any more than absolutely necessary,” Fock told Ritzau.

“The council should promote transparency and public debate on this area. But what is most important is someone is continuously discussing how data is being used,” she added.

Danish Council of Ethics chairperson Gorm Grelsen said he believes an ethics council for data is necessary.

“I can see a series of parallels to our council. I think that developments in both data collection and artificial intelligence raise some very overwhelming questions,” Grelsen said to Ritzau.

READ ALSO: Data of over 40,000 in Denmark may have been shared with Cambridge Analytica

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